Saturday, April 30, 2011


Tip #120. It is possible to turn a selection into a path. That’s one of the best ways to create a path that goes exactly where you want your text to go. Option or right-click inside the selection and select ‘make work path’. I leave the tolerance at the default setting of 2.0 pixels. Poof! The marching ants become a line that indicates the path. Select the Text tool, put the baseline at your starting point and click. Enter your text. The path will become invisible if the layer is not the active layer.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Tip #119. Everyone wants to be able to put text along a path, so they can make it go in a circle, or along a line that they create. Well, almost everyone. It’s never interested me. Remember, the pen tool is used to create a path. You’ll want to do that first. Then, press ‘T’ to go to the text tool. Carefully position your cursor, so the baseline indicator is on the path. The baseline of the cursor will add a wiggly line to let you know you are there. Click. An insertion point should appear on the path. Enter your text. Taa-daa!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Tip #118. This should be titled, “Fun With Text”, I suppose. Photoshop has a set of pre-created options to distort objects. You can use these to distort text. Once you have your text on your layout, click on the curved, double-ended arrow with a T above it in the options bar. A pop-up window will appear and the default option for Style is ‘None.’ The options have little pictures that clearly show the sort of distortion that you can select. Changing the bend will increase or decrease the amount of curve. Horizontal distortion will make one side larger and the other smaller. Vertical distortion can create elongated text, or mirror it underneath the baseline. Wheee!!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Tip #117. Some people like to prevent having to move their text around by creating a text box for the text to go inside. Photoshop has made this really easy. All you need to do is use the Text tool to click and drag to indicate the area you want the text to go into, before you start to type. Be aware that there will be NO space between the text box and the text that aligns with that edge. Text will be ‘on the line’ exactly. But you can still move the text should you wish.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Tip #116. Don’t panic if you start typing in the wrong place and your text isn’t aligned correctly in the space you want it inside. It is possible to move text with the move tool. It will all move together, as a unit. You won’t move one line at a time, or one word at a time.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photoshop Tip of the Day

Tip #115. When working with text, you’ll be frustrated to find you keep creating new layers, when what you really want to do is edit the text that you have. You select the text tool, you try to click on your layout and you start a new layer! The problem is that you aren’t clicking exactly on the lines of text. Zoom in and try again. Make sure that the tip of the cursor is actually touching the words, like a pencil tip about to trace them. Then the text layer will be selected. Or, make sure that the text layer is the active layer and your cursor will become an indicator, that you can place in the text and then move with the arrow keys to the location you want to start editing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Tip #114. By default, Photoshop CS 5 opens windows in tabs. I don’t care for this and by going to Edit | Preferences, I cleared the checkbox on the Interface section for “Open Documents as Tabs.” When I open a new document, it appears in its own window. If I want to drag that window completely out of Photoshop, I can. To close an active window that I’m done with, the keyboard shortcut is Command or Control + W.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Tip #113. To create a new paper using the designs from somewhere else, go to the magic wand, set the tolerance to a number between 5 and 75 and make sure the selection is not contiguous. Click on your design source in the area of the pattern that you want to capture. Tolerance is how close to the target color your selection will include. If tolerance is set too high, you’ll get more than what you want. If tolerance is set too low, you won’t get all of what you want. Remember, you can click in different areas and add to your selection. Then, move your selection to a new document. Use the Paint bucket to fill your selection in any color you choose. If your pattern is several different colors, you will have to repeat the process to select and fill each color.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Tip #111. Once you have made the perfect selection, you can save it to use later in the same image. Go to Select | Save Selection, and a pop up will appear. You can name your selection, but I never bother. Click OK and your selection is saved. But it’s not a selection any more. It’s more like a mask, and it’s stored on the Channels tab of the Layers panel. The default name is Alpha 1. Don’t fret. You don’t have to learn about Channels yet. To get your selection back, just go to Select |Load Selection. And your marching ants will show up again. You don’t even have to have the Channels tab visible. You can edit those ants, if you wish. To save your edits, you just have to select the channel Alpha 1 in the pop-up box when you click the Save Selection option, instead of creating a new channel (which would be Alpha 2). This is also handy when you have been working on a tricky extraction and you aren’t finished yet, but you want to quit working for a while. The most important thing to remember is you can’t save selections in a .jpg file. You’ll want to save your file as something layered, a .psd or .tiff. Again, don’t fret. Photoshop will automatically save in .psd format. It even politely pops open a window so you could choose .tiff format if you wanted.

Tip #112. To group layers, which keep them organized when you have lots of layers, simply select all the layers you want in a group in the Layers panel and then press Command or Control and the letter ‘g’. Or, with the layers selected, go to Layer | Group Layers. To ungroup layers, option-click, or right-click on the group and select ungroup layers. If layers are grouped, when you change the layer order of one layer in the group, you change them all. This can be quite useful if you have created a cluster of embellishments that you want to keep together. I like to use it for lettering. It’s OK to have more than one group in an image. And it’s also OK to put Groups in Groups. But if your projects are that complicated, you probably don’t need these tips.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Epson Printer!!!

I ordered a new Epson printer at Photoshop World and it arrived yesterday. I now have time to get it set up. I think I'll put it within actual USB cable reach of where I usually have my computer, so I can connect to it. I have to connect to my old Epson printer via sneaker-net. That's when you are wearing out sneakers walking back and forth carrying thumb drives or flash cards with pictures on them from the computer to the printer.


Tip #110. If there is no keyboard shortcut for something you use regularly, perhaps you aren’t using the ‘best’ way to complete that task. For instance, if I am using a Marquee tool to crop something, there isn’t a keyboard shortcut to do the crop portion. The crop tool is the better option. I can crop and change the resolution in one action.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Dust and ashes on my head! Woe! Woe! But at least I'll get caught up. Eventually...

Tip # 107. The keyboard shortcut to quickly switch from white to black (Really, to switch the foreground color to the background color) is the letter ‘X’. So I never bother worrying about remembering whether I need black or white when I am working with a mask. I just hit X and grab the other one, without looking at which is in use.

Tip # 108. Keyboard shortcuts will help you keep track of where you are working in Photoshop. If you have to move your mouse to a menu, you will watch the cursor and not be looking at your image. Then you’ll have to find where you were working in your image all over again. This sounds like no big deal, but after a long session of using menus, you will be tired of it. Often you have to drill down through flyouts to get to where you want. Skip that. Learn and use keyboard shortcuts and your touch typing skills will keep your eyes on your project.

Tip #109. Here’s a fun one. Start with some neutral color background layout. Take a huge brush. Turn on the grid (Command or Control and ‘) and zoom in until each ¼” square of the grid is large and easy to see. Click once to use the Brush like a stamp. (Or you could use the Stamp tool….) Press X to flip to brushing with white, move your cursor slightly on the diagonal, but stay in the same grid square! Then brush once with White. What you see when you go back to regular size is a thing that looks a bit like a paper cutout, with a black shadow behind it. Use History to undo brush strokes, change the black to a gray and try again. Try this with different brushes. In short, this is just one way to play.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photoshop Tip of the Day

Tip #106. If your brain doesn’t work the way the Photoshop writers did, you can switch the Quick mask to be the areas you have selected. Double click on the Quick Mask icon at the bottom of the row of tools and click on the radio button to change from masked to selected areas. This is also where you can change the Quick Mask to be something other than a 50% red. If you are working on a red car, you might want the Quick Mask to show up in green or blue, so you can see it better.


105. Tip #105. The Quick Mask is a tool that helps me use other tools. Some people think of it as an additional selection tool. The marching ants can cause problems when you want a precise edge. It’s like using a broad paintbrush to mark where you want to cut something. I use the keyboard shortcut of the letter ‘Q’ and a layer of pink shows up over the areas that are NOT selected. I can paint with white, to reduce the pink and make my selection larger, or black to subtract from the pink zone, making adjustments to the area I have selected, without having to worry about pressing the correct keys to add or subtract from my selection. When I want the marching ants back, I just press Q again. I can go back and forth as many times as I need. Ants-Mask-Ants-Mask.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Tip #104. Don’t get stuck following recipes. Photoshop is designed to allow creativity. There are only a few times when you must do things in specific orders, and they usually make sense. But just because you haven’t been told something will work, don’t assume that it won’t work. Just give it a try. Give yourself permission to move off the beaten path and explore new spaces.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Tip #103. Once you have a selection, you can right-click or control-click inside the selection for a list of some of the things you can do to or with the selection. It’s a great shortcut to quickly start doing things.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Tip #102. Clipping masks and layer masks are almost the same thing. When you use a clipping mask, you are using a layer like a mask. Instead of starting with a layer and adding a mask, you are adding a separate layer and making it act like a layer mask by clipping two layers together. Once you understand layer masks, you will never again be confused by the layer order required for a clipping mask.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Tip #101. What is a layer mask? I think of a layer mask as a shape, defined by me, that acts as a stencil to control what is and is not seen or acted on. It’s created out of black, white and any shade of gray in between. The part of the mask that is white is the ‘hole’ of the stencil. The part that is black is what will be hidden. Anything in gray is partly visible, rather like a ghost. The darker the gray, the more vague the ghost is. So the edges of the stencil can be fuzzy if I use gray, or precise if I use black. The whole layer mask could be like a screen or a filter. It’s really quite flexible in what it can do. But the most important thing about a layer mask is that it is separate from the layer that it is attached to and prevents anything permanent from happening to the item I am working on. If I remove or hide the layer mask, the item is unchanged. If these concepts aren’t really solid in your head, it is hard to work comfortably with layer masks.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tip #98. You can use an image to create your own brushes. They can be up to 2500 pixels x 2500 pixels in size. That’s pretty darned big. First, use whatever selection tool(s) you need to select what you want to use for your brush. Then go to Edit | Define Brush Preset and give your brush a name. It will append itself to the end of the list of brushes and when you hover your cursor over it, the name you entered will show up. The number included in the brush presets isn’t a count BTW, it is the size of the brush in pixels.

Tip #99. While Photoshop will remember your brushes, they aren’t really saved until they are saved into an .abr file. Use the preset manager to save the brushes you create. The process is just like saving styles, but you are saving brushes.

Tip #100. If your drive were to die tomorrow how much data would you lose? The only correct answer is, “none.” If you don’t have an effective back up system in place, it is time for you to spend money and get one. If you can afford a computer and Photoshop, you can afford to have a good backup system. I do not depend on an additional external hard drive. I use an on-line backup system. And I check it regularly to make sure that the data that I want to be saved has been included in the backup. It is not the responsibility of the service I select to tell me that my important files are backed up. Only I know what is important to me, so it is my responsibility to check.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Tip #97. Brushes are similar to Styles, in that you can use the Preset Manager and load different sets of brushes. The file extension for brush files is .abr. Photoshop comes with about 15 different sets of brushes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Tip #96. Photoshop can be efficient. Those things that we call ‘Brushes’ are really shapes that it can use for lots of different tools. Did you know that you can choose a brush and use it to Erase with? Or you can Stamp with it. Or use it as a Brush. This is where your tablet and stylus will really shine. Photoshop will respond to changes in pressure and angle.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

OK, I Can't Count.

Tip #91. Closing Photoshop and then opening it again won’t clear settings that are causing troubles. Photoshop remembers. Most of the time this is a good thing. You don’t have to spend a lot of time making the same setting changes over and over again. But if you changed a setting and you want to reset back, but you don’t remember exactly where it was before you started, there is always Window | Workspace | Reset workspace Name. That will reset the workspace back to the same settings it had when you created the workspace. If you created your workspace, then loaded several styles, those will no longer be there. You’ll have to load them again.


Tip #95. It is better to set an option to 0, than it is to leave it blank. Photoshop requires something in the space, even if it is just a place holder. If you try to delete all information, Photoshop will give you an angry red error message refusing to accept a blank, and it will then reset the option to either 0, or the last value entered that is not 0. Angry red error messages are annoying and I like to avoid them when possible. When you are working with something with a slider, instead of struggling to set it to 0, just double click on it and it will move to 0.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Photoshop Tip of the Day

I learned a lot at Photoshop World. I learned a lot about photography, mostly. But I did pick up a few interesting things about Photoshop.

Tip # 85. You REALLY need to be using a tablet. And a small tablet is too small. Get an Intuos 4 Medium. I know, they are expensive. But if you want control, you are not going to get it with a mouse. Period.

Tip #86. Zoom in. Zoom in a lot. If you are at 100% you haven't zoomed in enough. Zoom in more.

Tip #87. There is no such thing as knowing too many keyboard shortcuts. Time = money, in many cases and a keyboard shortcut that saves a few seconds will multiply into saved minutes over a day working on your computer.

Tip #88. Use a smaller brush. If you are painting something and you don't want the darned brush to create horrible blobs of color or shadow, use a smaller brush.

Tip #89. The Quick Select tool, coupled with the refine edge option will do a better job than you think it will. Start with Quick Select and see how well it does. If it's a fail, you haven't wasted much time.

Tip #90. If you Paste Special and choose Paste Into, you can move the layer around and pick the area you want to have showing. You'll have a window cut into a layer, with your new layer under it, showing through your window.

Tip #92. The keyboard shortcut to combine all of the existing layers into a single layer and add it as a new layer on top of your other layers is: Shift + Alt + Ctrl + E, or Shift + Option + Cmd + E. It's worth remembering.

Tip #93. If you are using the Liquify Filter, you can use a Freeze Mask to keep an area from moving. If you want to move one side of a flower petal, but not the whole petal, use the Freeze mask.

Tip #94. If you are using a paintbrush and you suddenly want to paint with a different color, press the Alt or Option key. The brush will turn into an eyedropper and you can select the color you want to use.

And we are now caught up.